There are a couple of things that as a Church we don’t like to talk to our kids about and sex is often one of them. We know that recently in the news, there needs to be more discussion around issues like consent and expectations around sex. The best way we can support our kids is to be brave enough to talk with our kids about it.
When I became a youth worker in the Church, we had a bunch of young people who were starting to explore their sexuality. We (the brave minister and I) decided that we would talk to them about sex. 2 minutes before we started as one of the Dad’s dropped off the kids he said very clearly “just tell them it is wrong and don’t do it.” Whilst this is a really common view held in Christian circles rarely does it unpack why we say that. There are two responses to this: it just puts in a bunch of rules for young people to follow and we know how much young people love to follow rules without understanding why, or they get married too soon because they just want to have sex!
Alot of our reactions come from our own experience of sex education growing up and from our fears for our kids, maybe getting pregnant and who knows what else!
So why do you think what you do about sex? What are the biblical passages that inform your thinking? or is it cultural or just what your family or bible study group believed?
One thing I know for sure is that your kids are talking about sex or at least thinking about it, wouldn’t you prefer that you have some input into that?
When I talked about sex with my kids I talked about how it is a good thing, a special gift from God to humanity, that is a beautiful celebration of a relationship. It connects people together in a really deep and intimate way and you need to be 100% sure (or at least 99%) that you are ready to go there with the person. Not only because you could get pregnant (being a child of an unexpected pregnancy I have good stories to tell!) but also if you break up it adds to your pain and suffering or you could end up stuck in a long term relationship that you hadn’t really thought through very well.
You will find your own words, it will be awkward and uncomfortable, but it is really important.
In recent weeks there has been discussions about consent. We don’t like to think of our kids as being people who wouldn’t respect another but it doesn’t hurt to check in.
We have a great role model in Jesus who showed us how men and women relate. Even those who were outcasts he treated with respect, like the woman at the well. In John 8 we remember the story of the woman caught in adultery, the one the community had condemned, Jesus stood up for.
As you may or may not be aware, the Uniting Church has done alot of thinking over the years around the issue of sexuality and faith. For me personally I found the report Uniting Sexuality and faith really helpful. Uniting_Sexuality_and_Faith_1997.pdf (uca.org.au)
If you need some help with resources to look at the issue of consent the state government has some good resources.
https://www.women.nsw.gov.au/makenodoubt (good clear descriptions of consent)
This is my favourite video about consent!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZwvrxVavnQ (a light-hearted and very effective comparison of sexual consent to making someone a cup of tea)
I know it is awkward and difficult but it is really important!
Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.